Michael Smith v Glen Durrant
The 2020 Premier League kicks off with the only all English tie of the round where 2018 finalist Michael Smith will meet world number 22 Glen Durrant. Smith is coming off the back of a poor showing at the PDC World Championships, losing his first-round match to Luke Woodhouse by a convincing 3-1 margin, while Durrant made a run to the quarters before bowing out to Gerwyn Price, which he can be forgiven for.
Despite his form, world number five Smith does have the greater pedigree here. After being relegated in 2016, he finished runner-up on his return in 2018 having fallen short to Michael van Gerwen. Durrant, on the other hand, only appeared as a challenger last year and will be one of two full debutants this year, though with such contrasting consistency of late this is a difficult one to pick
On his day, Bully Boy has enough to walk this, though his inconsistency plants a seed of doubt. Indeed, Duzza has averaged between 92 and 99 in each of his last 10 outings as he’s maintained a decent standard of late. Meanwhile his opponent has been a tad sporadic. Smith tonned up in three of his last 11 matches, throwing a whopping 113.62 against the Asp back in November, though having gone on a run of 22 consecutive matches without dropping his average below 90 dating back to mid-October, he’s now done so in four of his last seven, which has seen a sharp drop in his price for this one.
All things considered, the long price on Smith has sucked us in. His recent run to the Masters Final where he narrowly lost out in a decider to World Champion Peter Wright at the weekend is no mean feat, while even in defeat at the World Championships he still managed a respectable average of 95.69, and we think he’ll be able to turn his game on this Thursday.
Gary Anderson v Daryl Gurney
2011 and 2015 winner Gary Anderson begins his pursuit of a third Premier League title against Northern Irishman Daryl Gurney in Aberdeen, though the Flying Scotsman has been fluttering lately. His semi-final appearance at the masters last weekend was his first last four showing in his last 18 tournaments dating back to July, while Scotland’s victory at the World Cup in June is his only title on the tour in his last 35 competitions.
With that said, it’s not exactly like his opponent is firing on all cylinders either at the moment. SuperChin fell at the last 32 hurdle at the World Championship to Glen Durrant, while he also lost in the first round to Dave Chisnall at the Masters and must be low on confidence with his only title since April coming at a Players Championships.
Both players are throwing similarly consistent averages recently too, with neither dropping below 90 in any of their last 11 clashes. Both reached the semis in their most recent Premier League appearance, while their head-to-heads are tied at W8-D1-L8 apiece, so there’s very little to separate the two.
On those grounds, the total 180s look to be the value market. The Scot will be roared on in his home country, and is currently averaging more than one 180 every other set since the beginning of the World Championships, so the over 3.5 looks to be incredible value in this first to seven encounter.
Michael van Gerwen v Peter Wright
Undoubtedly the highlight clash of the evening sees a repeat of the World Championship final between Peter Wright and Michael Van Gerwen. Magic Mike is looking for an unprecedented fifth consecutive Premier League title and has still the undisputed world number one, though having lost his World Championship crown to Snake Bite Wright, who then followed up his triumph with a Masters title to kick off the year, this looks to be much more in the balance.
The consecutive titles mean the Scotsman has now won each of his last 10 matches averaging 98.94 across them and although the Dutchman boasts a superior average in his seven matches in that time, their form seems to be going in opposite directions. The world number one having tonned up in 15 out of 17 matches heading into the back end of November, he’s now only done so in four of his subsequent 12 matches and looks far too short considering.
While there’s very little to separate these two at the moment, what we can be guaranteed of is a high quality match and a lot of 180s are very much on the cards. Indeed, Snake Bite is averaging a whopping 0.77 180s per set since the start of the World Championships, though it’s got nothing on Van Gerwen’s 0.89 in that time and the total 180s in what ought to be a tightly fought contest should pull through.
With the momentum very much in the Scotsmen’s favour at the minute, we’re inclined to get behind him in the outright. The two men have split their last six meetings and the 21/10 current price about the world number two certainly appeals, especially since he won their last clash in the World Championship final by a fairly comfortable 7-3 margin.
Nathan Aspinall v John Henderson
Nathan Aspinall has risen four places to eighth in the PDC Order of Merit having reached the semis at both the World Championships and the Masters, but is still looking for his first title since the US Masters back in July. He’ll be tasked with facing Challenger John Henderson in Aberdeen, who is not looking in top form having gone as far as the last 16 just once from his last 13 tournaments, although that was at the Ally Pally and went down to Gerwyn Price so can be excused for that exit.
The Englishman has steadily risen the rankings and has established himself as one of the most dangerous players on the tour. He’s only dropped his average below 90 on four occasions over his last 40 matches as consistency has served him well, which is more than can be said of his opponent.
This will be the first meeting between these two in their careers, though with the Asp is undoubtedly the in-form player of the two, so it’s difficult to see why he’s still such a healthy price. The Highlander is not showing any sort of consistency at the moment, going W11-L13 since the Gibraltar Darts Trophy in September, not winning or losing more than two consecutive matches over that time. In fact, up against the top 10 in the world he’s gone W3-D1-L8 since the beginning of 2019, losing each of his last five such matches, so we’re happy to go with the grain and get behind the Asp.
Gerwyn Price v Rob Cross
Any other week and this is the highlight of the night, though with a repeat of the World Championship final taking place just over an hour earlier, these two will have to play second fiddle. Currently third and fourth in the Order of Merit there’s very little to split these two in terms of ability, though their form is very contradictory.
Both had very positive Premier League campaigns last year, with Cross falling short in the final to Dutchman Michael van Gerwen. Welshman Price suffered just the solitary defeat in his final eight matches across his campaign here last year, falling agonisingly short of the playoffs, but is coming into this in much better form.
Indeed, the Iceman has reached a whopping six tour finals dating back to the 23rd Players Championships in September, winning three of them including defending his Grand Slam crown, which has a vastly different complexion than his opponents recent record. Indeed, Voltage hasn’t been too electric of late despite winning at the European Championships. Excluding that tournament, he’s now only reached the last eight once in his last 12 competitions, including a first-round exit to Kim Huybrechts at the World Championships and another to Adrian Lewis last weekend at the Masters. He’s now won just four of his last nine matches since November, and with Price winning four of the last five head-to-heads, we’re inclined to get behind him at evens.
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